Last year, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, a longtime gun advocate, signed a bill into law, enacting the loosest open carry law in the country.
Buying an assault rifle in the Lone Star State is as easy as picking up a loaf of bread. Anyone is free to carry guns in public with an easy-to-obtain permit.
Texans can wear handguns in holsters just like the old West. Or they can sling their assault rifle over their shoulder as they “work, shop, dine and go about their day,” according to The New York Times.
The National Rifle Association and gun advocates say open carry laws are the best way to thwart crime. Individuals also have a right to protect themselves, it claims.
But those same laws make it easier than ever–and more deadly– for gun massacres like the one in Dallas.
The shootings took place during a peaceful “Black Lives Matter” protest in downtown Dallas. The four assailants appeared to have planned the attack. They were hiding in elevated positions, giving them clear shots at the officers, who were providing security.
One officer was filmed by security cameras being shot execution-style, according to reports.
Three shooters are in custody and the fourth has shot himself after warning “the end is coming,” according to news reports.
No armed citizens, if any were present, are known to have fired back at the assailants.
President Barack Obama was quick to condemn the killings, calling it a “vicious, calculated and despicable attack.” He said no justification exists for violence against police officers.
According to early reports, the shootings were allegedly in revenge for the deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, LA and Philando Castile in Minnesota.
Police shot both African-American men in situations that many called an unjustified use of deadly force.
After passing its open carry law last year, Texas became the most fee-wheeling gun culture in the nation.
Opponents warned that police officers would have a hard time separating the good guys from the bad. In addition, no evidence exists that open-carry states are safer than states with tougher restrictions, according to The Times.
Texans imposes no restrictions on gun sales, although federal restrictions still apply.
The Texas Department of Public Safety will issue a conceal carry permit to anyone who is at least 21 years old, after they complete a training courses and pass a written exam, according to the department.
While gun advocates are highly vocal, they still represent a small minority. Last year, just under 1 million state residents had licenses to carry concealed guns.
Texas is home to 25 million people, living in about 7.3 million households, according to state figures.
Even so, gun advocates are pushing for a new law to ban the need for an open carry license. They claim it violates the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
It’s unknown as of yet how the assailants were able to obtain their guns, ammunition and body armor.
“This is not just a black issue. It’s not just a Hispanic issue. It’s an American issue. All fair-minded people should be concerned,” Obama said after the Sterling and Castile shootings.
Whether this latest outbreak of gun-related violence, ending in a mass shooting changes the attitudes of Texans–or the nation–remains to be seen.
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